CNIB Newsletter - May 2015

Editor’s Corner

Welcome everyone to this most recent edition of our CNIB-NL newsletter! Inside, you can find out what CNIB has been doing in Newfoundland and Labrador, explore staff and client profiles, learn about an exciting new self-defense program, and also get updates from our community partners. We would like to give a huge thank you to everyone who has contributed to make this newsletter possible!

-Robert Sterling

Inspirational Quote

“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.”

-John Pierpont Morgan

Letter from CNIB-NL

Dear readers,

May is Vision Health Month and once again CNIB is reminding the public to protect their vision. We know that for some individuals, a loss of vision is unavoidable. However, for many there are ways to significantly reduce the chances of losing their vision. We launched Vision Health Month in Corner Brook with a Dining in the Dark event and will close the month in St. John’s with another Dining in the Dark.  These events provide an impactful evening for our guests to be reminded of vision health, learn about some of the services we provide, and raise funds to cover the costs for the services we provide to clients and their families.  There will also be many other activities during the month, including an ongoing Assistive Technology Tour that is making its way throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.

Highlight of Staff Members: Welcome Kathleen May

Photo of Kathleen May and her dog Buddy at Signal HillIn September 2014, CNIB hired a new Low Vision Specialist for Newfoundland and Labrador. Kathleen May worked with Ophthalmologists for 17 years in Canada and the US before she moved to St. John's. Kathleen finds it a great pleasure to work within an organization that offers support and promotes programs that enable those who are blind or partially sighted to live a full independent life: "I find the work very rewarding and my colleagues, ‘Best Kind’." Welcome Kathleen! You can contact Kathleen at: (709) 754 1180 (ext 5814) or 1-800-563-2642

CNIB’s Eye Safety Program has been travelling across the province over the past six months delivering eye safety workshops on vision health and safety to employees and students of the College of the North Atlantic. At the end of May we will have provided a total of 50 workshops to 1780 students at 16 colleges. Along with the colleges during North American Occupational Safety and Health Week, May 4-8 CNIB provided 4 workshops to 345 employees of local businesses.

We encourage you to spread the word to your family and friends to remind them of the importance of vision health and safety including reducing risks like not smoking, maintaining a healthy diet and being physically active, protecting their eyes from sunlight, and wearing eye and face protection when playing sports or working with power tools.

Have a great Vision Health Month, and feel free to contact us if you would like more information on CNIB’s programs and services.


Deborah Wearn, Provincial Director
Duane Morgan, Manager, Programs and Services

Debbie Ryan, Vision Health Promotion & Communications

Ed Barnes - My story

Ed Barnes has been employed for ten years as a Computer Support Specialist with the Office of the Chief Information Officer Executive Council, which is part of the Provincial Government.

Photo of Ed using a computer at his workplacePrior to his employment, Ed studied at St. Mary's University in Halifax. Ed struggled with the management science and economics courses due to their visual nature, however found he could excel in the information technology field. He then entered into the Computer Support Specialist program at the College of the North Atlantic and graduated in 2002. One very important lesson learned from his post-secondary experience is that in order to be successful he had to increase his level of independence and understanding of his accommodation needs.

In 2003, Ed completed the Web For All Initiative through Industry Canada. Work time was spent split between CNIB and the Independent Living Resource Center, where he honed his skills in information technology. After this he spent three years at Xwave a member of the Bell group of companies, and took his current job with the provincial government in 2006. He finds computer support work especially enjoyable as he gets to work in different situations with different people.

Ed has Retinopathy Prematurity, which means he has been totally blind since birth as a result of being over-oxygenated in an incubator. Never having vision, Ed learned to read Braille when most children were learning how to print.

Ed learned how to adapt to doing everyday tasks as a part of life living with vision loss. When mowing his lawn, he uses the side of his house as a guide and listens for traffic to tell when he gets near the end of his property. He can feel with his feet to easily tell if the grass is thick or thin. He listens to the sound of his gas mower for different sounds in thick grass versus thin grass. When plowing snow, he makes one cut parallel to the road and it works the same way, using the house as a guide. Most of what Ed does in the office is also sound dependant. He utilizes screen-readers like Jaws and Non Visual Desktop Access (NVDA) on flash-players, which allows him to move from station to station and work independently.

Scrap for Vision in Support of CNIB

Robyn Coveyduck, mother of a CNIB client, is organizing a third party fundraiser for Saturday, June 13 in St. John’s. This all day scrap booking event will include a silent auction. Registration is $50 and includes lunch and snacks. Call Robyn for information: 709-237-7458.

Dining in the Dark NL

Since 2011, CNIB has been organizing Dining in the Dark events to increase awareness of vision health and to raise funds to support programs and services we provide. The first was at Raymond’s Restaurant in St. John’s and we added Gypsy Tea Room in 2013. Later that year we expanded to Gitanos’ Restaurant in Corner Brook in 2013 and 48 High in Grand Falls-Windsor in 2014.

Dining in the Dark is an unforgettable culinary experience where guests rely on all of their senses – except sight. This unique event also reminds people not to take their sight for granted. Research shows that most people believe that if they can see well they don’t need to have an eye examination. This is simply not true. The leading causes of vision loss can develop without symptoms (Glaucoma, Macular Degeneration and Diabetic Retinopathy).

Volunteers in each of the communities, along with CNIB staff, help to sell tickets and raise awareness through media about the events. Learn more about dates, tickets.

Assistive Technology Tour

CNIB is giving people across Newfoundland and Labrador an opportunity to test-drive the latest assistive technology. For instance, there are many new apps for almost everything, such as GPS and magnifying apps. Have a copy of schedule.

CNIB Family Camp

CNIB would like to invite you and your child to apply for our Family Camp to be held at the Lion Max Simms Memorial Camp, located near Bishop’s Falls from Wednesday August 5th to Sunday August 9th, 2015.

This year, as a result of generous donations from guests attending a Dining in the Dark event, we are pleased to offer a camp subsidy for 22 families which will cover the cost for a family of three to attend camp. We are also able to provide a transportation subsidy at the maximum of $100.00 per family (this amount will be determined by mileage), if you choose to provide your own transportation to camp. We are strongly encouraging families to use the bus which leaves St John’s and is free of charge.

If you have any questions about CNIB Family Camp contact: Kimber lie Hart, CNIB, St John’s,(709) 754-1180 (ext 5803) or 1-800-563-2642,

Jennifer Hynes, CNIB, Grand Falls-Windsor, (709) 489-6515 (ext 11) or 1-800-563-2642,

Vision Mate Program

CNIB is continuing to recruit for our Vision Mate program. This involves volunteers, trained as Vision Mates, to help individuals with vision loss maintain social interaction and independence. For more information contact Lynsey Soper, at, or by telephone at 1-800-563-2642.

CNIB photo ID cards

In line with direction from CNIB national office, there is now a $10 fee for new CNIB photo ID cards. This fee will cover your card, including replacement cards, for five years.

Living Safe Program

CNIB hosted a pilot of a new self defense program at the St John's Centre.

Photo of Kim Thistle-Murphy and Tina Tobin practicing self-defense techniquesThe model for the Living Safe program was co-designed and implemented in Australia by Dr. Tanya Packer, Director of Dalhousie University’s School of Occupational Therapy. The program has recently been successful at CNIB in Nova Scotia and was co-facilitated at CNIB St. John's and led by Dalhousie Occupational Therapy students, Jillian Lee and Emily Eaton. Sensei Pat Cochrane of the Mount Pearl School of Martial Arts, graciously volunteered his time to teach the group some basic self-defense maneuvers as a means of increasing their level of confidence and sense of personal safety. Tina Tobin, a CNIB client who participated in the program, commented, "Everybody should know a bit of self-defense." Kim Thistle-Murphy, a CNIB client also participated and shared the same sentiment, "I believe that all women should avail of a self defense/safety program, whether visually impaired or not. I found the Living Safe program to be very empowering. I loved that we had the practical, hands-on and that the instruction was geared for the visually impaired-using something like 'described audio."

The aim of the program is to equip those with vision loss with the knowledge and ability to defend themselves. Along with that comes the confidence to be more assertive and a heightened awareness of safety risks, and thus the ability to avoid such risks.

Some of the topics covered in the Living Safe program are; using public transportation after dark, moving through unfamiliar environments, using the white cane as a weapon to ward off an attacker, being able to avoid confrontational situations, being assertive when pressured or pushed, and coping with stress.

RNC Constable Glen Cunningham was also on hand to discuss general safety tips, such as keeping one’s personal belongings close at all times and to always be aware of fraudulent scams. Constable Cunningham also shared valuable information on being safe while alone in the home, including keeping doors and windows locked and not letting any unfamiliar people in.

Members of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) who attended the pilot project said they found it to be an interesting and interactive two days that left the participants feeling empowered.

CNIB continues to work closely with Dalhousie on the Living Safe program. The hope is that CNIB can secure funding so that this program can be offered across Newfoundland and Labrador in the future. Judging by the comments from those who participated, the Living Safe program was a hit in St. John's: Tina indicated, "I really enjoyed it and I'd definitely go again if it was offered!"

Community Partner Updates

Lions Clubs of NL pledge support to purchase white canes

Photo of District N3 Lions Club: (L-R) District Governor of Lions Cyril Simmonds , Donna Byrne CNIB Low Vision Specialist, CalviLions Clubs across the province of Newfoundland and Labrador (districts N3 and N4) have pledged $14,000.00 over the next four years to cover the costs of providing white canes to CNIB clients. This tremendous commitment will have a huge impact on the lives of our clients as well as their independence. A huge thank you to Sight Conservation Chairs, Don Connolly (N4) and Calvin Vincent (N3), for helping to establish this partnership.

District N3 Lions Club: (L-R) District Governor of Lions Cyril Simmonds, Donna Byrne CNIB Low Vision Specialist, Calvin Vincent Sight Conservation Chair

Photo of District N4 Lions Club: Lion Lester Caines with Karen Pottruff CNIB Independent Living and Orientation and Mobility Spe








Photo of District N4 Lions Club: Lion Lester Caines with Karen Pottruff, CNIB Independent Living and Orientation and Mobility Specialist

Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) - NL Division

Submitted by: Don Connolly

Canadian Council of the Blind is made up mostly of blind and visually impaired people who share common interests such as blind sports and recreation, belief in ability not disability, and a desire to support others based on shared experience. CCB promotes increased accessibility, equality of opportunity and quality of life for people with vision loss. There are three Chapters in NL located in St. John’s, Grand Falls-Windsor and Corner Brook. New members are always welcome.

The CCB with the assistance of the CNIB work with an independent group to conduct a week-long summer camp for the Adult Visually Impaired at the Lion Max Simms Memorial Camp in Bishop’s Falls in August of each year.

NL - Visually Impaired Sports and Recreation Association

This is a relatively new group within the Visually Impaired community. Their mandate is to encourage persons who are visually impaired to become more active in sport and recreation activities within their own communities. This year’s project entitled, Visually Impaired Persons  Connecting with Lions Clubs is attempting to reach out to visually impaired persons in any community throughout the province to encourage them to lead a more active lifestyle.

Don Connolly will be visiting Grand Falls-Windsor on June 16/17, Corner Brook on June 18/19 and Gander on June 20. If anyone is interested in meeting with him or other NL-VISRA or CCB representatives they should contact him in advance to arrange a time to get together.

For more about CCB or NL-VISRA, or where and when local Chapters meet contact Don Connolly – President, NL Division at 726-5975 or email or find us on Facebook: Canadian Council of the Blind, Eastern NL Chapter.

Contact CNIB - We are here for you.

St. John’s Office
70 The Boulevard
A1A 1K2
(709) 754-1180

Corner Brook
3 Herald Avenue, 1st Floor
A2H 4B8
(709) 639-9167

Grand Falls-Windsor
1A O’Neill Avenue
P.O. Box 442
A2A 2J8
(709) 489-6515

Happy Valley – Goose Bay
49 Grenfell Street
A0P 1E0
(709) 896-8302